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Why so many older Americans file bankruptcy

As a Tennessee senior citizen, you may be discovering that what were supposed to be your golden years have instead become a financial nightmare where you have more expenses than your limited income can possibly cover. You are not alone. A new study reveals that the combination of low pensions, low savings, high debt and extraordinary medical costs have placed a large number of older Americans in the position where bankruptcy may be their only viable option. Today, seniors like you account for 12.2 percent of bankruptcies filed whereas this figure was only 2.1 percent in 1991.

In the intervening years, many factors have come together to create a perfect storm in which your income simply cannot cover your necessary outgo. These factors include the following:

  • Extensive debt obligations 
  • Few savings
  • Gaps in Medicare coverage
  • Skyrocketing health care costs
  • Longer waits to receive Social Security

Declining savings

No one need tell you how difficult it is today to put any money aside as savings. Unfortunately, this difficulty has increased over the years. In 2016, households headed by a senior had a median life savings of $60,000. The bottom 25 percent of such households had only an average of $3,500 socked away for a rainy day.

Increasing health care costs

In the meantime, American health care costs have steadily risen and show no evidence of reversing that trend. Many seniors find themselves spending up to 41 percent of their Social Security check on health-related costs such as co-pays and prescription medications. Many must make the choice of whether to buy their medications or their groceries.

Add all this to the ever-increasing cost of living and it is not difficult to understand why more and more seniors find themselves facing bankruptcy. If you find yourself in the position of overwhelming debt and not enough income to pay your bills, you may want to consider whether bankruptcy will provide the relief you need.

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